Volume 10, Issue 15

May 4, 2011

Hot Topics

Foreign Policy reports that two senior members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have written a report saying that by seeing the world through a lens of threat we are under-investing in our youth while relying too heavily on military expenditures to drive foreign policy. The authors, writing under a pseudonym, connect "America's overreaction to Islamic extremism" with our under-investment in our youth and our failure to understand that influence, competitiveness and innovation are the key to advancing American interests in the modern world.
A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that children who have lived in poverty and are not reading proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to drop out or fail to graduate from high school than those who have never been poor. Even among poor children who were proficient readers in third grade, 11 percent did not graduate. Among children who never lived in poverty, all but 2 percent of the best third grade readers graduated high school.
Children whose mothers were exposed to bisphenol A (BPA) early in their pregnancies were more likely to experience wheezing in early childhood says Pennsylvania State University researcher Adam J. Spanier. His study of 367 pairs of mothers and infants found the link between wheezing in children and high BPA levels occurred at 16 weeks' gestation and not at 26 weeks' gestation or birth. Spanier said more research needs to be done but suggested women of childbearing age consider avoiding plastic products containing BPA until more is known.
Save the Children released its 12th annual Mothers Index report, which rated 164 countries to determine the best places in which to be a mother. Norway ranks at the top of the list this year and Afghanistan last. The United States placed 31st out of 44 industrialized countries primarily due to its higher maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rates. According to the report, women in the United States are seven times more likely to die during childbirth than women in Italy or Ireland. Eight out of every 1,000 children born in the United States die before reaching age 5. The report also points to the relatively short paid maternity leave mothers in the United States receive compared to other industrialized countries.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said the government is considering providing free education for all 5-year-olds beginning next year. The move would mean the country would increase support for public education from nine to 10 years. He said adding free preschool (called kindergarten in South Korea) would address the growing need for South Korean families to obtain a good education for their children and reduce the burden on mothers so they can become more involved in the nation's economy.
Teachers have been much in the news of late, with their portrayal by political types and education reformers not always flattering. Still, it's important to recognize the essential role our teachers play in shaping the lives of our young people, the vast majority doing it with skill. Ways to recognize these important members of our communities can be had at the Teacher Appreciation web site.
Preschool teachers have been encouraged to seek more education so that we may develop a better system of early education. In this week's Preschool Matters ... Today! blog post, NIEER's Megan Carolan and Jen Fitzgerald write on the improvement in teacher quality standards since NIEER first started tracking the data.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

This blog post contains a round-up of national news focusing on our newly released report The State of Preschool 2010: State Preschool Yearbook.


May 2, 2011 - May 5, 2011
Greensboro, NC – The National Smart Start Conference is hailed as the nation's largest conference devoted to early education systems and strategies.
May 12, 2011 - May 14, 2011
Wheeling, IL – The Leadership Connections conference is a professional development opportunity designed for teachers, administrators, family child care providers, trainers, and consultants.
May 12, 2011

New Brunwick, NJ – Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, will give the Second Annual Education Justice lecture at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Public Policy and Planning at 3:30 p.m., May 12, 2011.
July 10, 2011 - July 13, 2011
Orlando, FL – The CAYL Institute will hold its third national conference for elementary school principals in Orlando, Florida.

Early Education News Roundup

May 4, 2011
Merced Sun-Star, Merced, CA
Some programs, such as quality preschool and early childhood programs, are investments that will save taxpayer money in the long run. Unfortunately, many of these programs are targeted for big cuts by Congress.
May 4, 2011
Brattleboro Reformer, Brattleboro, VT
A bill that is making its way through the Legislature would allow schools to enroll more pre-K students into publicly funded classrooms, and Windham County educators say the change would affect programs throughout the region.
May 3, 2011
The Republican Eagle, Red Wing, MN
The recession seems to have had a negative effect on early childhood education programs in Minnesota. According to a report released Tuesday by the National Institute for Early Education Research, over the past nine years, enrollment in state-funded programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start has dropped by about 17 percent for 3- and 4-year-olds.
May 2, 2011
The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC
During difficult budget times, we must focus limited resources on what we know works. North Carolina's Pre-K program, a national leader, has been shown to significantly improve academic outcomes for at-risk children in our state.
May 2, 2011
U.S. News & World Report
The president has focused on improving pre-K and early childhood education, asking for funding increases for Head Start and Early Head Start, programs that prepare children for school. The report also says Obama would like to extend his Race to the Top program to include early childhood education.
May 1, 2011
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia School District's plan to cut full-day kindergarten to help balance its budget is being decried by national education experts as a "disaster" and a "very bad decision" that could harm the development of thousands of children - especially the poor.
May 1, 2011
Tulsa World
The decision to go forward with early childhood education is one of the state's best investments.
April 30, 2011
The Journal Times, Racine, WI
When the Racine Unified School District started offering 4-year-old kindergarten to all families four years ago, officials promised the program would eventually bring as much as $5 million in annual revenue to the district, helping fund 4-K and other district expenses. That promise has been made good.
April 29, 2011
Erie Times-News, Erie, PA
Quality early education programs pay for themselves and can bring us a big return on investment. Pennsylvania has seen remarkable results -- for three years, nearly every child in Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts finished the school year with age-appropriate or emerging age-appropriate language, math and social skills.
April 28, 2011
The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, IN
Less than 5 percent of the school district's children are traditionally enrolled in a formal preschool program. This year, school officials set out to change that.
April 28, 2011
The Tribune, Ames, IA
Sometimes the best course of action is to take no action at all. That's what the Iowa Senate has done so far with the House's efforts to discontinue the state's voluntary preschool program.
April 27, 2011
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia will have about 306 fewer pre-kindergarten classes next fall -- 59 fewer in metro Atlanta's four largest counties -- and a statewide waiting list of several thousand 4-year-olds. Fewer classes, each with more students, are part of a plan to keep the lottery-funded pre-k and HOPE scholarships from going broke.
April 27, 2011
The Charlotte Post, Charlotte, NC
Report author Donald Hernandez, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Childhood Development, says reading skill must be addressed even before a child enters kindergarten. "Research has found that high-quality early education makes a big difference in terms of third-grade reading scores and success through high school," he said.


In this brief, law enforcement leaders make the research-based argument for greater investments in early childhood education to prevent still more costly interventions later in life. This brief focuses on Minnesota; visit Fight Crime: Invest in Kids to find a similar brief for your state.
This interactive tool from the National Center for Children in Poverty allows users to find the percentage of young children in a given state within a specified age range who are experiencing economic hardship and/or exhibit selected risk factors.
In this article in Principal magazine, NIEER co-directors Ellen Frede and W. Steven Barnett examine U.S. student performance on international assessments, discuss the positive outcomes of preschool education, and provide action steps for principals.